Sunday, January 13, 2008

Salt Crust Roasted Golden Beet Caprese Salad

My two cents:
I teach high school Environmental science, and I'm finding more and more that I feel like I'm not setting a good example. I recycle as much as possible, but I need to start composting and buying smarter. Since I can't afford to buy a hybrid, I'm trying to take littler steps. I've been trying to play around with local winter vegatables, since local is not only better for the local economy and to support our farmers, but it's also better for the environment. The less food has to travel, the less exhaust is added to the atmosphere. As an added bonus, local food is fresher and often more sustainable. However, in the depth of winter - it is hard to find. So for now we're going semi-local, relying on stores like Wegmans who will often tell you the source of their produce. It may come from a little ways south of here, but at least we're not buying from South America.
This salad was an attempt to use beets in some other way than roasted plain or pickled. The salt crust method comes from Bon Appetit's February issue. It lent delicate flavor to the beets and roasted them perfectly. This salad was a great surprise. The beets lend a light citrusy sweetness that I think I even prefer to the classic tomato version. I use a pesto in place of basil leaves, because I like the big flavor in every bite. Enjoy - this is a must try!



3 golden beets, trimmed, unpeeled
2 cups coarse kosher salt
1 Tbs. dried thyme
zest of one tangerine
1 Tbs. prepared horseradish
2 Tbs. water


1 cup packed basil leaves
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup macademia nuts
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tsp olive oil

1 1/2 cups fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
***preferably locally made - ours comes from cows that graze in Hereford***

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix together all of the ingredients for the salt crust. Make 3 mounds of salt mixture close together on a rimmed baking sheet. Place a beet on each round. Beets should be almost touching. Mound up salt around beets and press firmly to cover completely.

Roast for 1 3/4 hours. In the meantime, combine all pesto ingredients in food processor and blend to combine.

Remove beets from oven and crack salt crust open. Plunge beets into ice water. Peel off skin (it should come off very easily at this point). Slice thin.

Toss mozzerella and beets with pesto. Arrange on a plate, alternating beet and cheese. Serve while still slightly warm.

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